Hilly Edinburgh, Scotland’s capital, has a medieval town and a modern Georgian new town, together listed as UNESCO World Heritage site. Edinburgh is home to Arthur’s Seat, an extinct volcano in Holyrood Park aiming to offer panoramic views from its peak. Looming over the city is hilltop Edinburgh Castle, home to Scotland’s crown jewels and the Stone of Destiny, traditionally used in the coronation of Scottish rulers.
Every August, the Edinburgh International Festival aims to transform the city by offering three weeks of artistic creations and performances. Edinburgh’s six major theatres and concert halls, additional venues and some unconventional locations, are preparing to host music, theatre, opera and dance shows from around the world. Participation in the International Festival is by invitation only, issued by the festival director. This year the festival aims to be scheduled between the 5th and the 29th of August. During the same timeframe, the city is preparing to host the Festival Fringe, established in 1947 as an alternative to Edinburgh International Festival. The Fringe aims to be an open access festival for performers. Several other festivals are also scheduled in Edinburgh for the summer, including a series of beer events and festivals.
In addition to whisky, Scotland may be home to a variety of craft breweries. Beer has been produced in Scotland for approximately 5,000 years and Edinburgh has been an important production center. Edinburgh’s nickname, Auld Reekie, is a reference to the smoke produced by the furnaces powering this industry.
Prasanna Veeraswamy, a tourist from Singapore who recently visited Edinburgh, said about the experience: “When I first visited Scotland 16 years ago, the buzz was all around the Scotch whiskey, which was being treated as the nectar of the gods that the Scots were proud to distill, distribute and celebrate. It may seem like Edinburgh’s love affair with beer has been resurrected. All over the city, locally crafted ales are sold in Free Houses where you may experience a truly eclectic mix of beers from Scotland and beyond.”
Besides the entertainment factor, festivals may contribute to the cultural and economic development of Scotland. Events have the potential to generate tourism, especially when they cater to out-of-region visitors. The Scottish government aims to support and promote events as part of a strategy for economic development, regional building and cultural tourism. The Expo Fund provides Edinburgh Festivals with £2.25 million to promote themselves to overseas audiences and invest in the work of talented Scottish artists and performers. The focus of the 2015/16 Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund is new creative works by Scottish artists, international collaborations and the promotion of Edinburgh as a key festival city in the world. The events in turn may be an important tool for attracting visitors and building image within local communities. Tourism related services, including travel, accommodation, restaurants, shopping, may also benefit from events and festivals.
Faith Liddell, Director at Festivals Edinburgh, said: ‘The Scottish Government’s Edinburgh Festivals Expo Fund provides an incredibly powerful platform for Scotland and its artists, thinkers and companies to be showcased to the world at Edinburgh’s Festivals. As a direct result, hundreds of performances and events of the best Scottish work been presented as highlights in our prestigious Festival programs; many have also been taken to other venues and festivals around the world and new networks and opportunities have been delivered for Scotland’s artists and thinkers.”
With continued support from the Scottish government, as well as private sponsorships and social involvement, cultural events and festivals may have the potential to promote and position Edinburgh as one of the world’s leading festival cities.
How may Scotland best use festivals to promote its tourism industry?